More to Me Than HIV

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More to Me Than HIV

First published in Gscene July 2020 For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library.For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library. For the project I spoke openly about my journey having being           Read more

More to Me Than HIV: GScene post Aug 2020

More to Me Than HIV is a project that aims to breakdown the stigma that has historically been attached to this virus.  When I saw my piece in last months Gscene to promote the More to Me Than HIV project, I was extremely proud, but a small part of me was filled with anxiety; but why should I feel this way? I have been on effective antiretroviral therapy since the Read more

More to Me Than HIV: first published in GScene July 2020

For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library. For the project I spoke openly about my journey having being             diagnosed HIV+ 32 years previous. Back then there was no treatment and a lot of fear and misinformation concerning how HIV was transmitted. As such stigma was rife, Read more

moretomethanhiv.life

Combating Stigma: More To Me Than HIV.

First published in Gscene Aug 2020

More to Me Than HIV is a project that aims to breakdown the stigma that has historically been attached to this virus. 

When I saw my piece in last months Gscene to promote the More to Me Than HIV project, I was extremely proud, but a small part of me was filled with anxiety; but why should I feel this way? I have been on effective antiretroviral therapy since the early 1990s, but having lived through the period before there was any treatment, watching friends die of AIDS, or from the toxicity of early medication AZT, those memories of uncertainty can still creep in and unnerve. 

With this in mind, I can imagine that for the group of people who HIV has not had a significant impact on their lives, when they hear the words HIV or AIDS they will recall the time when the only information out there was AIDS = Death, which was only compounded by the tabloid press who went above and beyond in spreading misinformation about how HIV could be transmitted. Perhaps because HIV is not part of their lives, this is their recall on what HIV is still about. It is this misunderstanding that perpetuates HIV stigma and one that needs to stamped out with re-education. 

The one thing that stops many people being open about their HIV status is the stigma, stigma that comes from outdated ideas about what HIV is and how it can be passed on. 

Let me make this perfectly clear, people living with an HIV+ diagnoses who are on an effective antiretroviral therapy cannot pass the virus on, put simply: Undetectable = Untransmittable.

People living with HIV, on effective treatment can expect to get older and get on with living their lives. Not that living with HIV doesn’t have a whole set of challenges, but having an HIV diagnoses should not be the defining thing about us, we are so much more than those three little letters and that is what is at the core of this project. 

We understand that to speak openly about our HIV+ status may be an uncomfortable step to make, but it is through this project we feel we can break down the stigma associated with HIV by showing that we are not ashamed by our status, it is something we live with but that is not a label that defines who we are. Through this photo project we will show that we are: determined, resilient, funny and capable, we are chefs, beauticians, builders, mother’s, fathers, grandparents, artists, listeners, musicians, carers, writers and so the list goes on. So for those living with HIV, we ask you to show us who you are beyond your HIV status; check out the website moretomethanhiv.life, upload three photos, one portrait of yourself and two photos that show another part of what make you, you, along with three, positive, descriptive words. Together we can combat HIV+ stigma and resign it to the history books where it belongs.

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More to Me Than HIV

First published in Gscene July 2020

For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library.For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library.

For the project I spoke openly about my journey having being             diagnosed HIV+ 32 years previous. Back then there was no treatment and a lot of fear and misinformation concerning how HIV was transmitted. As such stigma was rife, which caused me to not be vocal about my status outside of the safety of those HIV+ forums and groups.

I felt empowered by talking about my own HIV+ status at my place of work and was moved by those who spoke so eloquently and openly about living with an HIV+ diagnoses. Straight after the project had finished, I knew I wanted to build on what we had collectively presented.

From here the same team came on board and collectively we have shaped this years visual presentation for World AIDS Day 2020.

The photo project is called, More to Me than HIV; it’s main purpose is to help breakdown the stigma that many people living with an HIV+ diagnoses experience. The project will culminate in an online public gallery as well as a physical exhibition of photographs at Jubilee library and a selection of branch libraries across Brighton and Hove who are supporting the project by allowing us to use the space free of charge

We are inviting people from all communities, gay, straight, BAME and transgender, who are living with HIV to submit three photos: one self portrait, (format, vertical), and two other photos (cropped, squared to fit beside your portrait photo) These two images must convey other aspects of what makes you, you; from a hobby, your career or passion.

Please send three empowering words to accompany the images. We will format and add these to the partite image. 

Submissions will be exhibited on our online public gallery, which we will launch a week before World AIDS Day as part of the national HIV+ testing week.

From these submissions we will choose a cross section of 30 entries to make up our libraries exhibition. When submitting your photos, there will be an option to opt out of this part of the project and to have your images online only. 

From the 30 entires we would like to invite you to write  300 words (100 words for each image) to give further context to the images and what it means then we say there’s more to me than HIV. 

The team behind the project understand there be a lot of questions  participants want to ask which we will strive to answer via the website, here are a few that may come to mind.

Can I be assured of confidentiality?

Yes, we live with or are affected by HIV ourselves and recognise the importance of confidentiality. For example, when you subscribe to our email list, you don’t have to give your name, we only use it to politely address you.

How do I submit photos, which format should I use and size?

Send your photos by email to the webpage address, there will also be easy to follow details of what format and size we would like you to use.

How do you approve images?

We reserve the right not to use images that break any UK law, contain any hateful or obscene content, or are too small to represent on our platform without distorting the image.

What if I don’t want to be identified?

We will not attach any name to the portraits for the project. You may choose not to show your whole face in the portraits, however, we would like to encourage you to combat stigma by being visible.

I’d like to take part, but I’m uneasy as I’m not out about my HIV Status?

We recognise that choosing when and who to disclose your his positive status to can be difficult, as we have been there ourselves. You may want to choose this project as part of your disclosure strategy to show others how diverse we are. Being pictured with others may be of comfort to you, as you are not alone. 

If you would like to speak to an HIV positive Peer Support Volunteer, the Sussex offers a one to one bespoke service to help you stand with you on your journey.

Our website will be updated throughout the project as more questions come in so please do check the website. We look forward to seeing your images as we all stand together and say, there is so much more to name than HIV.

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